Common Seal

Phoca vitulina

What do they look like?

Smaller than the grey seal, common seals can grow up to 2 metres in size. Their rounder head and shorter snout are distinctive features, sometimes described as ‘cat-like’ compared with the grey seals ‘dog-like’ appearance. Their colouring can vary, although they usually have dark spots or markings. Pups are able to swim almost straight after birth and are not born with thick, white fur like grey seal pups.

Where can I see them in Scotland?

Common seals can be spotted all year round in many locations around Scotland. 5% of the global population of common seals live around the UK coast, often resting out of the water on sandy beaches or rocky outcrops. Although they spend huge amounts of time hunting at sea, common seals usually return to the same haul out sites to digest their food and rest.

seals are vulnerable to human disturbance.
Disturbance can have negative consequences for seals, including injury or the separation of mothers from their pups.
It is important to keep your distance (at least 100 metres) and keep dogs under close control.

Close up seal
© NatureScot